There are hundreds, possibly thousands, of managers across Canada who spent the September long weekend making personnel decisions in time for the September dawn of a new season. Granted, the majority of these managers are in charge of teams with names like 'Old Puckers', 'Rusty Blades', 'Just the Tips' and 'Nine-Inch Males,' but don't be fooled; beer-league hockey squads can be downright tricky to put together. As with any successful organization, you need the right mix, and that means drafting from the following beer-league player categories:
Some teams wait until the playoffs to unveil this option. Others go with it right from the opening face-off. Either way, without a ringer, your team is done. The challenge for managers is convincing a good player to suit up for a bad side. This can be accomplished a number of ways, including promises of goal-scoring glory and awe-inspired teammates. Most effective, however, is let him play for free. It's simple math, really. Everyone else pays an extra $50 and everyone else gets a shot at the 'DD' Division title.
The Young Guy
At first glance, he can easily be mistaken for a ringer, since the young guy still wears the shorts and socks of his junior or college team. But it's time for the next phase of life now, and that means an office job. The young guy stays in shape for the first half of the year. Sadly, an increasingly sedentary existence and late night partying catches up to him by Christmas. 15 to 20 pounds later, he's just another player, huffing and puffing with the rest. Welcome aboard, kid.
The Old Guy
Forget the 50-and-over league; that's not for him...even though his gloves reach up to his armpits, and he still uses a wood stick. To be fair, the old guy can be an effective player, especially if he's a wily old guy -- a hook here and a chop there, because that's how they did it when professional athletes were real men. 'Eddie Shore -- now there was a hockey player! Lost an ear against the Maroons. Sewed it back on himself. Never missed a shift.'
Required only for cheap laughs. On the one hand, you have to admire the beginner. It takes a lot of courage to buy all brand new equipment and take up hockey in your 40's. On the other hand, learn to take a pass, man. It's right on your stick. How does that knock you over? And now you're friggin offside! Not to mention the Beginner shows up at every game, no matter what time or what day. Sunday night playoff game at 11PM - no worries, Mr. Beginner will be there.
The Complete Psycho
Also good for a few giggles . . . from afar. Most likely a cop or fireman. The complete psycho is capable of anything: running the goalie, challenging an entire bench, a tomahawk chop -- all in the repertoire. Do not feed the complete psycho. He doesn't want to be fed. He wants to hunt. And, look to him to carry on his act in the bar after the game.
The Naked Guy
Bane of the dressing room. Most players have the courtesy to stretch their hamstrings while sporting, at the very least, a bit of underwear. Not the naked guy. He'll carry on full conversations, and you had better maintain eye contact like your life depended on it....or come face to face with the swinging sausage.
The Guy with the New Girlfriend
An excellent way to lower everyone else's fees is to load up on a few of these. The guy with the new girlfriend will show up to three games, tops, so his payment will contribute to everyone else's and it's not like you'll lose ice time by putting him on the roster. That said, beware that the guy with the new girlfriend might very well turn into the guy with the new wife...at which point he'll never miss another game.
This guy is absolutely brutal but since nobody else could be bothered to do all the paperwork and collect the money he gets to play. Is frustrating to play with because they can barely skate let alone take a pass but nobody gets mad at him cuz he's a really nice guy. Is often heard in the dressing room saying 'Sorry guys, that one was my fault' and if he's lucky somebody will chip in something like 'No worries Donny, it's a team effort.' What everybody is really thinking is 'Hey Donny, my grandmother is a better player than you and yes you are right, that was your fault.' If you are lucky the Organizer is usually smart enough to take himself off the ice in critical situations.
The Minor Hockey All-star
Looks promising at a glance as they fool you with reasonably good skills but after you get zero passes you'll get the picture. This guy topped out at 'AA' Midget and can be spotted by the huge blinders attached to his helmet. Play is characterized by energetic rushes down the wing, (no passing), then into the corner (still no pass), behind the net (hey dickhead I've been open for the past 5 minutes), then into the next corner (everybody has gone back to the bench to watch) followed by a blind give away pass to the high slot / break out pass for the other team. Cut this guy.
The Johnny Try Hard
Great to have on your team but they suck to play against because they have somehow managed to keep themselves in ridiculously good shape. They were probably the star on their high school hockey team and won athlete of the year because they played hockey, volleyball and track all in the same year. Guaranteed they have a membership at the 'Running Room'. Play is characterized by constant hustle which if caught off guard can embarrass the more talented yet fatter player.
The Stanley Cup Champion
This player will raise their hands and cheer when they score. If this is an opposing player you must nip this behavior in the bud by catching him off guard with a sickening open ice hit that causes him to blow snot bubbles. If this player is on your team quickly chastise him in front of the other team to let them know that this is not how the rest of your team rolls. Remind him how much of a loser he is by retrieving the puck from the net the next time he scores and presenting it to him in front of the other team.
The Tough Guy
This guy maxed out at the house-league level, has never been in a fight and is characterized by antagonizing behavior on the ice. In extreme cases he will 'cheap shot' another player. The fact that your beer league does not allow fighting has given this guy a false sense of courage. What this guy does not realize is that this will not prevent someone from knocking his teeth out if he cheap shots the wrong guy. There are a number of fun ways to handle this player which all end with him lying on the ice bleeding, looking for his teeth and crying.
The Wrong Guy
Not to be confused with 'The Complete Psycho'. This guy shows up, doesn't say much and pretty much flies under the radar screen. The kid that gave him the cheap shot will eventually look his name up on Hockey DB after his facial surgery and realize he had 355 pims in the East Coast 3 years ago.
The Gary Roberts
Can be described as being way too intense. This guy is one of your better players but is unable to adjust to the lower level of play. At the best of times he will try to coach players on the fly and at the worst of times he will snap and call his entire team a bunch of house-leaguers. He believes the game should be played a certain way and despises 'pond hockey' style play with no back checking or positional assignments. Most likely is suffering from a complex of 'unfinished business' from his previous hockey career and is looking to capture some shred of glory via the rec-league championship. This guy is probably better off playing with his own kind in a senior-A league.